Published August 21, 2012
U.S. stocks ended the day just a hair lower Monday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average finishing down three and a half points at 13,271. The Nasdaq and Standard & Poor's 500 were off a fraction, but still close to four-year highs.
Investors today will be keeping a watchful eye on Europe, with lingering hopes that the European Central Bank might buy bonds to help struggling European nations. Asian stocks closed mixed Tuesday; European stocks are trading mostly higher, and here in the U.S. the snail's pace continues with markets set to open modestly to the upside.
Apple (AAPL) is now the most valuable company of all time with a market value of $623 billion, surpassing Microsoft's (MSFT) record from the dotcom boom of 1999. Apple's stock rose yesterday by $17, or 2.6%, to a record high of $665.15.
Over the past year, Apple's stock has nearly doubled, and is fetching nearly seven times what it was right after the financial meltdown. By comparison, if the Dow did the same thing, it would be sitting at nearly Dow 40,000 today. Clearly, it is not.
Meanwhile, Facebook (FB) shares slumped to a new all-time low yesterday, at one point hitting $18.75 but closing just above $20. The decline marks a sharp discount from the May IPO price of $38.
Famous Facebook investor and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel has sold the majority of his stake in Facebook, according to a document filed with the SEC. Thiel has been involved with social giant since it was a start-up back in 2004. He sold nearly 20 million of his shares last week when the lock-up period expired, a sale that netted him a reported $395 million, bringing his total Facebook profits to a cool billion.
JetBlue (JBLU) was fined $90,000 by the Department of Transportation for failing to tell passengers on board a March flight delayed at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York that they could leave the plane, as it sat at the gate for two and a half hours.
JetBlue says customers were free to deplane and were also given water and access to the lavatories, but it did not provide them with regular updates, as the airline is required to by law every 30 minutes.
The fine is the first of its kind under the new passenger bill of rights passed last summer. It's ironic because JetBlue sparked the need for a passenger bill of rights in the first place, after several delays on its flights -- sometimes for up to eight hours -- during an ice storm at JFK back in 2007.
Turns out it's not the skimpy food, checked-baggage fees, or rude flight attendants that travelers most complain about -- it's the legroom! Airlines determine how much room you have to stretch your legs and wiggle your toes based on a tricky formula known as "pitch," or the distance between one specific point on a seat and the same point on the seat behind. The average is 31 to 32 inches.
If you want more, you often have to pay for it -- even if you're sitting in coach. That's terrible news for families looking to travel together; try asking someone who paid more for their bigger seat to switch with you! More and more airlines, like JetBlue and Southwest, are even starting to use bigger planes with smaller seats. That means more passengers, more revenue -- for them. Want more legroom for you? You'll have to pay for it.
The kids may be back to school ... so 'tis the season for Christmas shopping? Wal-Mart (WMT) is bringing its popular layaway program back this year a month earlier this year, on September 16. It'll cover more items than last year, and the world's largest retailer hopes it will entice more shoppers into its stores. About 85% of Wal-Mart customers pay with cash.